News / Arts & Entertainment

Hollywood Celebrates 100th Birthday of Stanley Kramer

Hollywood Celebrates 100th Birthday of American Filmmakeri
X
September 11, 2013 2:11 PM
This month, Hollywood celebrates the 100th birthday of producer and director Stanley Kramer - who made controversial films and explored the unpopular topics of his time. Kramer not only challenged American society, he challenged powerful movie studios of the day by becoming an independent filmmaker. Kramer died more than 10 years ago, but his legacy and his films live on. Elizabeth Lee has this story for VOA from Los Angeles.
Hollywood Celebrates 100th Birthday of American Filmmaker
Elizabeth Lee
This month, Hollywood celebrates the 100th birthday of producer and director Stanley Kramer - who made controversial films and explored the unpopular topics of his time.  Kramer not only challenged American society, he challenged powerful movie studios of the day by becoming an independent filmmaker.  Kramer died more than 10 years ago, but his legacy and his films live on.

Stanley Kramer made movies that got people’s attention and, at times, made them angry. His wife, Karen Sharpe Kramer, remembers the opening night of the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

“There were lines around the block, 15 blocks long," said his wife Karen Sharpe Kramer.

The film explores the issue of interracial marriage, a risky subject in the 1960s.
“Stanley and I both had a lot of hate mail, we were threatened in restaurants," she said. "We’d go to dinner and somebody would come to the table and say, "You’re that Mr. Kramer that made that film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Well you better watch your back Kramer, we don’t like it.'"

Jan-Christopher Horak directs UCLA's Film and Television Archive.
“The time that film was made, in 60 to 80 percent of the states in this country there were still laws on the books - it made you a criminal if you married interracially," said Horak.

Black actor Sidney Poitier starred in that film.

“He was a remarkable person and he was probably one of the most amazing filmmakers in America and we never had moments for anything but teaching each other. We learned from him occasionally, once in awhile he learned from us," said Poitier.

Kramer explored race relations even before Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, often in secret says Karen Sharpe Kramer, recalling how the film Home of the Brave was made.

“And he hid this wonderful African American actor James Edwards on the floorboard of his car going to and from work everyday," said Karen Sharpe Kramer.

Kramer addressed other controversial issues, for example the Holocaust in the movie Judgment At Nuremberg, a fictionalized account of the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal that prosecuted top Nazi leaders for genocide against Europe's Jews in World War II. At a time when the country was not discussing the Holocaust, this film shocked audiences.  
 
Kramer also directed Inherit the Wind, taking on another controversy, the teaching of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The movie was based on the famous Scopes Monkey trial in which a school teacher in Kentucky was tried for teaching evolution and found guilty.

It was nominated for four Academy Awards but, UCLA's Horak says:

“He was criticized for focusing too much on messages you know, that his messages were a little too obvious that he was making films for the message instead of making a great film and have the message somehow kind of slip in along the side," he said.

Stanley Kramer retired in his 60s, but his films won 16 Oscars and their subject matter had an impact on how Americans think and act on issues still relevant today.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.